I look at the resolution I made at the beginning of the year, and it strikes me once again how totally and thoroughly my Father in Heaven knows me.
I am focusing this month partly on not reviling those who revile me (personally or as part of a group) - and I never imagined when I made this resolution last December that many would be openly reviling me this month, simply because I am Mormon. However, that is exactly what is happening in
The most ironic aspect of this week is that I also faced reviling from others (including some church members) due to my vote for President-Elect Obama. A few of them even questioned how I could hold a temple recommend because of my vote. I can't even begin to describe how disturbing that is to me, to have my spiritual worthiness impugned because of a political decision that is seen as too "liberal" by some members of the Church.
Due to my views on these two issues, I was reviled by others as being both too conservative and too liberal. Irony, thy name is politics.
This post is not about Proposition 8 fundamentally, or even about the issue of gay marriage - or about the Presidential election; rather, it is about the irony and awfulness of outrage and reviling.
As I said in my post last Saturday, "to revile" is ""to address or abuse with contemptuous language". As I read comments on theads about Prop 8 and the election this week, and particularly when I watched the protest (and near riot) outside the Los Angeles temple grounds something struck me - HARD.
There were some members who said some truly terrible things - who reviled homosexuals and those who supported gay marriage. They were a small minority, but they existed. That is truly and deeply disturbing to me. The Church, however, urged calmness and compassion and love and acceptance of people even while asking for opposition to what those people believed. Of course, that is a difficult distinction to make for those who don't accept the Church's basic, foundational understanding of the Law of Chastity, but the Church itself never issued hate-inspired statements.
What struck me was that the protestors at the Los Angeles temple had succumbed to the natural tendency to construct a straw man as a target for their outrage - and their reviling. (I say "straw man" intentionally, since the Mormon vote was only a minority of the vote. Perhaps it was the most visible and became the public face for many, but those who voted for the proposition came from many backgrounds and religious denominations - many.) The protesters created a monolithic Mormon caricature and directed their anger at that symbolic target - embodied in our temple. What struck me most forcefully, however, is that as a result of their inability to avoid reviling, these people were acting exactly like the caricature they had created. They were "haters" in every sense of the word - FAR more so than the people and the organization they were protesting. It took police officers deployed on the grounds to stop a riot, something that was not an issue from those they labeled "haters".
I have never understood the admonition, "Revile not," more than I have this week. When I made this resolution, I understood that reviling stands in opposition to love and the pursuit of perfection, but even last week I did not understand how completely and overwhelmingly opposed to the Plan of Salvation succumbing to reviling truly is.
I don't want to become like the protesters I saw this week. I don't want my life to be consumed by hate, especially hate that is directed largely at a caricature. I don't want to fill my heart with hatred and anger toward an entire group of people simply because I disagree with their moral and political views - no matter how repugnant I find those views. Most of all, with all my heart, I do not want to become the mirror image of the caricature I am protesting.
I do not write this post in an attitude of reviling. I write it hoping somehow that those who are now in the gall of bitterness and anger and even hate (ON BOTH SIDES) will recognize the destructiveness of that path, examine the result of continued reviling and commit to follow the Savior's admonition (no matter their moral and political beliefs) in Matthew 5:44-47 to:
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
I have come to believe that the only way to rise above the natural tendency to revile and hate is found in the verse I quoted in my post on Wednesday (1 John 4:19):
We love him, because he first loved us.
May we first love those who revile us.